Last week, a new ticket entered the ANUSA election contest, with the announcement of Student Left Alliance (SLA). The ticket will contest two officer positions – with current Education Officer Beatrice Tucker (they/them) running for Environment Officer, and Mickey Throssel (they/them) running for Education Officer. The ticket also includes five candidates for General Representative. SLA identifies as a ticket of “both affiliated and non-affiliated left-wing students,” with candidates from Solidarity as well as independents. They invite interested students to message their Instagram page @StudentLeftAlliance_anu.
The ticket states their objective as “mobili[sing] the direction of the student union towards collectively winning a better world,” in response to the “world entering an era of turmoil.” SLA labels the climate crisis, the “drive to war with China,” and the effects of the cost of living crisis on ordinary students and workers as the main societal issues they wish to tackle.
In announcing their candidacy for the ANUSA election, SLA critiques the emphasis on student elections, stating “the most prolific political event in the ANU Student Calendar is unfortunately the student elections.” The ticket therefore labels their priority as “mass movement-building activism” over the bureaucracy of the current union. In their announcements on Facebook, SLA candidates rejected the incumbent tickets, with Environment Officer Beatrice Tucker (they/them) stating, “Fuck the toxic student politics cycle, refusing to run in a ticket like the ones I was involved with in the past. Ending the hack line, and choosing to do it differently instead with a ticket full of people involved in campaign action, not just words.”
Policy 1 – Fighting AUKUS
SLA has called on students to “fight war, nuclear and the militarisation of our university with ANU’s new plans for AUKUS-related degrees.” The ticket describes anti-AUKUS activity as both rejecting AUKUS courses and degrees at ANU, but also “fighting imperialism at home,” claiming that AUKUS may contribute to tensions with China, which “is not in student interests.” SLA claims that “other tickets aren’t taking up this urgent issue.”
Policy 2 – Fight for the climate and work with First Nations People on land rights
General Representative candidate Benjamin Jelfs-Smith states that SLA will “actively be resisting ANU’s increasing entanglement with the climate-wrecking fossil industry,” expressing concerns over “a terribly hot, dry and fire-dangerous summer.” Other candidates cite “fight[ing] mining companies,” “a just transition to 100% publicly owned renewable energy,” and “working in solidarity with First Nations people in the fight for land rights and self-determination.”
Policy 3 – Defend education at ANU and fight course cuts
SLA identifies “waves of course cuts,” in their view to fulfil the ANU’s copyrighted phrase of “teach less, better,” as a driver of less specialised education and less course offerings at the ANU. The ticket also identifies the sit-in at the School of Art and Design last year as evidence that “student resistance works.” The ticket identifies the new compulsory minor as a target for activism, saying the university is treating students like “products” instead of customers, tailoring degrees for industry instead of learning. The ticket concludes by saying that “resisting the university’s involvement in AUKUS,” comes alongside opposing course cuts.
There has been a significant amount of anti-AUKUS sentiment on campus recently, with lots of events calling students to protest the deal, meaning SLA is capturing an issue that does have a high-profile on campus. Focusing on the ANU’s courses and degrees geared towards AUKUS may gain traction as it relates to an on-campus issue students can see and relate to. Campaigning on climate change similarly engages with an issue students care about, and continues a focus within the platform on activism. Finally, the policy on course cuts speaks to an issue both Officer candidates actively campaigned on, and one that does affect ordinary students to a great extent. It is also an issue where activism has produced successful results in the past.
The two main challenges SLA may face is a focus on activism, and a lack of clear steps towards the goals they have outlined. The main avenue the ticket identifies to fight AUKUS is activism, which Woroni has previously discussed as facing challenges at a national level. Similarly, the focus on fighting the climate crisis via activism may seek to revitalise a climate campaign that has somewhat dropped off since COVID-19, meaning it may be harder to get students involved given a lack of momentum. SLA’s climate policy in particular seems underdeveloped, with less concrete actions identified than their other two policies of fighting AUKUS and course cuts. The course cuts policy may attract similar issues with generating new support, given it stagnated this year. Finally, the critique of the incumbents may, to some students, seem contradictory given both Officer candidates ran on the incumbent ticket previously.
Stay tuned to Woroni for a riveting weekend of student election content!
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